The Benicar Time Bomb

 
Category: 
Defective Drugs

Benicar, also known as Benicar HCT, Azor, Tribenzor and olmesartan medoxomil (generically), is a drug used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that in 2012 over two million U.S. patients were prescribed Benicar. Unfortunately, this drug has been linked to disastrous and sometimes permanent side effects. It has been the subject of significant litigation.

Sprue-Like Enteropathy

Benicar has been linked to at least 60 cases of a severe form of sprue-like enteropathy, a sometimes life-threatening disease that causes malnutrition and gastrointestinal disorders by damaging the intestinal villi (villous atrophy). This condition that causes its victims to experience symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Severe weight loss
  • Kidney failure

Diagnosis Delays

Victims may not begin experiencing symptoms of sprue-like enteropathy until months or even years after they begin taking Benicar. Even then, the symptoms may be misdiagnosed as celiac disease (because of the similarity in symptoms) until the doctor realizes that traditional treatments for celiac disease, such as a gluten-free lifestyle, aren’t working. Only when the treatment for celiac disease fails do many doctors advise patients to discontinue their use of Benicar. Although symptoms eventually abate once the medication is discontinued, by then the victim may have already sustained permanent health damage, especially when long-term severe malnutrition occurs.  

The Case for a Recall

On July 3, 2013 the FDA admitted the causal link between Benicar and sprue-like enteropathy by issuing a product warning linking the two. Although the FDA did not recall Benicar, it did approve changes in the mandatory labelling of this drug. Because of the severity of Benicar’s side effects, the FDA should initiate a Class I Recall (based on a reasonable probability that use or exposure will cause serious problems or even death) and immediately issue a nationwide recall order.

Pending Litigation

Benicar’s growing reputation may be finally catching up with it. Between June 15 and July 15, 2015 the number of consolidated multidistrict Benicar-related lawsuits exploded from 70 to 915. This figure represents consolidated lawsuits only, and thus may underestimate the total number of Benicar lawsuits that are currently pending. Most of these lawsuits allege that manufacturers Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Forest Laboratories Inc. failed to adequately warn victims of the drug’s dangers. At least one lawsuit alleges that Benicar is inherently dangerous due to a design defect in the drug itself.

Filing a Lawsuit

If you have suffered health problems due to the use of Benicar, your best bet might be to file a product liability lawsuit seeking damages against the manufacturer. You might also consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against your health care provider if you feel that your doctor unreasonably delayed advising you to stop taking Benicar by misdiagnosing your symptoms as celiac disease.   

Either way, you will be entitled to compensation for your Benicar-related injuries including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and perhaps even legal expenses. An experienced defective drug attorney is often well worth the expense. If you need an attorney, feel free to take advantage of our multi-state injury lawyer search function.

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